One of the great gifts of praying daily Morning Prayer at All Souls is watching the windows change with the light. Tuesday through Friday, a few of us gather at 7:15 for Matins, reading the scriptures from the daily lectionary, praying the psalms appointed for the day, and asking God to be with us and to reveal himself in the world in the day ahead. Often, the church’s stained glass windows compete for our attention.
The St. John the Evangelist window by Tiffany, between the Main Altar and the Mary Chapel, comes alive in the morning. As the light outside moves and trees sway, the colors dance and shine with St. John’s preaching. The large window of Jesus over the Main Altar claims special attention sometimes when the sun seems to hover directly behind, coloring us with the image of Christ and making the angels seem as if they’re moving. Other times in the year, we finish Matins and turn to leave the church and are almost knocked over by the brilliance of the Goodhue window over the baptismal font. On such days, the light is so strong that we remember it on days that are cloudy or overcast, or even at night.
The Third Sunday of Advent is a little like the light we experience through our windows. Gaudete Sunday, Rose Sunday, or Refreshment Sunday—whatever name you prefer—breaks into our season like a burst of light, interrupting our listening, intruding on our waiting, and injecting a new sense of urgency. Something is about to happen, and it is coming from God!
Gaudete Sunday takes its name from the first word of the traditional choral introit appointed for this day, Gaudete in Domino semper, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” echoed in our Epistle Reading from Philippians 4:4-7. We are urged to rejoice because “the Lord is near.” God’s closeness means that worry, anxiety, and uncertainty are all taken into the heart of God, who “guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Like the sun that moves around our building to reveal new sights and visions, God’s grace moves around us, interrupting our lives with joy, with promise, and with hope. May we perceive the increasing light of Christ this season.